I recently re-read Homer’s The Iliad, which I read in high school probably 45 years ago. I had forgotten much of that story, but definitely think it should be called “Let’s Just Kill Everybody”. But the re-reading helped me really enjoy with renewed meaning The Song of Achilles. A fascinating book. Here is my book review The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Even if you don’t know The Iliad and the story of the Trojan War, you still will enjoy The Song of Achilles. Miller has taken the age old story and rewritten it with an emphasis on Achilles and even more emphasis on his companion Patroclus.
Told from the viewpoint of Patroclus the story begins when he is a young prince. An unfortunate accident gets him shunned from his father’s halls and he is sent to live with King Peleus and his golden son Achilles – “the best of the Greeks”.
Achilles and Patroclus could not be more different. One brave and confident the other quiet and meek. But in each other they find a bond, a common need for companionship and rapport. As young boys they learn the ways of war and prepare for their future. But as they grow to young men they find love for each other as well. Miller’s imagination creates a retelling of their relationship, a true love story, heartfelt and beautiful.
When Helen of Sparta is kidnaped the Greeks lay siege on Troy and the decade long Trojan War begins. Much is written about this war and the heroes. The Song of Achilles goes deep into the personalities of both mortal men and gods, the women in the shadows and the egos of the leaders. Miller’s imaginative dialogue and storyline is far more interesting to me than the Iliad, though the ending remains sad and bloody just the same.
I highly recommend The Song of Achilles for it’s intelligent, thoughtful, moving and fresh look at this ancient tale.
*****Five Stars for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
We recently spent a week in beautiful Ogunquit Maine. We have been to Ogunquit before, but on this trip we had more time to explore. It’s an incredible destination and I’m sure we will visit again. In fact, Maine has a marketing slogan; Maine – The Way Life Should Be. I couldn’t agree more! Here are my thoughts – Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things.
Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things
Ogunquit was still pretty crowded with late summer tourists, and we were trying to social distance. So some of the things we may have done normally (such as the live theater or dining) we chose to avoid for the most part. We did dine out a couple of times, outdoors, and we also went in to a few shops. Mostly our activities involved being outside with our friends. And with great weather, there was no better place to be for any outdoor activity. Our list of favorites begins below.
Duh. When in Maine, eat lobster. Now being a born and raised Pacific Northwest girl, I have a hard time finding a crustacean that lives up to Dungeness Crab. But I put lobster as a close second, especially when you can have really good, sweet and fresh lobster from Maine. During our week in Maine I ate lobster four times; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ogunquit offers dozens of places to eat lobster as well as many places to purchase fresh caught lobster for cooking at home. We did both, and also ate lobster on our final day Portland Maine. In Ogunquit I had a lobster omelette at the Omelette Factory, a lobster roll at Barnacle Billy’s and we bought and cooked fresh whole lobster one night with our friends. I also had another lobster roll at Gilbert’s in Portland. By the way, Gilbert’s clam chowder was great. Eating in general was great but lobster in Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things.
Walking, Running, Hiking
If you follow our blog you know that walking, running and hiking are a big part of our daily life, and while in Ogunquit we had plenty of opportunities for all of these. Since we were training for a half marathon we stayed on our running schedule with runs along the flat and beautiful Ocean Ave in the neighboring village of Wells. We also really enjoyed running in York Beach and along Long Sand Beach. Both of these areas are perfect for walking too. We also enjoyed walking at low tide on Ogunquit Beach and the path called Marginal Way at Perkins Cove.
With our group of friends we hiked one day in Agamenticus Mountain. This conservation area offers dozens of trails for a variety of hiking levels. We ended our hiking morning with more than eight miles and a bit more elevation than I was expecting. Phew it was a workout but also a beautiful and peaceful area. I highly recommend it.
Shops in Ogunquit
I’m not a big shopper, but I did want to pick up a few small gifts as well as a lobster charm to add to my ever-growing collection on my charm bracelet. So we took some time to check out a few shops in Ogunquit. Some of my favorite shops were in Perkins Cove and this is where I found my charm and some earrings at Sea Glass Jewelry. I also enjoyed the Ogunquit Village Food Market and the Ogunquit Soap Company on the main drag in Ogunquit.
Kennebunkport and York
Bookending Ogunquit are several small villages and towns, including Kennebunkport and York. We spent one morning in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. I wanted to see the Bush Family compound and it’s astonishing how close you can get to it from the viewpoint at Walkers Point (see photo). But my favorite thing in Kennebunkport was Saint Ann’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
York is actually not that small, made up of several villages that fall under the York jurisdiction. We visited York Beach, home to many resorts and shops. It is the quintessential New England Beach town. It was a great place to run but while running I kept stopping to take photos because it was just so stink’n cute!
Cape Neddick is home to the Nubble Lighthouse in York Beach, one of the most famous in Maine. It is positioned on a tiny island about a hundred yards from the Cape, accessed by a tiny gondola. But visitors can only view it from the cape.
We spent one day in Portland Maine (about an hour north of Ogunquit) and visited two lighthouses here including the Portland Head Light and the much smaller Bug Light. Portland Head Light was my favorite and is everything you would imagine in a Maine Light House. The park at Portland Head Light – Fort Williams Park is really lovely too.
Portland Day Trip
On our final day we made our way an hour north to Portland for a quick visit. Besides the two lighthouses mentioned above, and lunch at Gilberts (also mentioned above) we walked around Old Port. It was a glorious sunny day and so we did not visit any of the museums, instead enjoyed the gorgeous scenery over the water and boats and tucked into a few shops. The pottery available is wonderful in this part of Maine. You could easily spend several days exploring Portland.
Finally, we said farewell to our friends and headed back to Boston for one night before our early morning flight. We have been to Boston MANY times so did not attempt to do any of its wonderful tourist things, but we did enjoy a Red Sox game that evening in the incomparable Fenway Park. The last time I was in Fenway was 1982. It was great to be back. We plan to be back in Boston next spring, so we saved visiting the other iconic sites for then.
Flying in and out of Logan Airport in Boston when visiting Ogunquit is easy. The drive from Boston to Ogunquit is about an hour and a half. You can also fly to Portsmouth New Hampshire or Portland Maine – both about an hour drive to Ogunquit.
The Way Life Should Be
We tentatively hope to be back in New England again next September with a visit to Acadia and parts North. Hopeful we can pull that off…but our week in this beautiful state will not soon be forgotten. Good friends, good food and good fun. Can’t ask for anything better than that.
Maine – The Way Life Should Be. Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things
This is one of the best books I have read about dealing with Alzheimers in a parent. I loved the book Her Beautiful Brain by my friend Ann Hedreen. And this book was just as good. Here is my review of What we Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang.
Some of you know my father has Alzheimers and has been living in a lockdown facility now for three years. He no longer knows who I am. As I read this book and the account of the author with her mother’s spiral into Alzheimers it was all very familiar to me.
Like Hedreen’s book, Lang shares her day to day struggles with her mother’s dementia; from the early days when she just seems confused, to the anger and finally placidity before no memory at all.
During this journey with her mother Lang learns a great deal of history of her family that she never knew. Through her formative years she had idolized her brilliant doctor mother for immigrating from India and making a life for herself and her family in the USA. But as the dementia slowly tears her mother apart, Lang learns astonishing and heartbreaking information that makes her question her family and decisions her mother made along the way.
It’s a beautifully written tale of mothers and daughters, families and the foundations we build through facts and fiction we are fed as children. A wonderful memoir for anyone who has a parent with Alzheimers and frankly, anyone who has a parent.
****Four stars for What we Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang
It’s been about 12 years since I became a runner…relatively late in my life. Since the start of the PanDamit I have used running as therapy for my mental and emotional health. Along the way it also helped me lose and maintain the loss of thirty pounds. And when I had major diverticulosis surgery in April, I found a way to incorporate running for recovery into my wellness plan.
During the early lockdown days of the PanDamit I ran constantly from my home base in Washington State, as well as during our little close-to-home sanity staycations. From May 2020 to April 2021, I trained for and ran a total of five half marathons.
My last half marathon was on April 18th, two days before I underwent my diverticulosis surgery. I took about six weeks off after the surgery from running, and then very slowly started back at it. And I mean very slowly. It was amazing how much that surgery took out of me. Even now, nearly five months from surgery, I am slower and struggle often to keep my pace. But she persists! I hope I will eventually get back to my pre-surgery running self. And if I don’t, then I will live with my new post-surgery running self. I intend to keep running at whatever level I can as long as my body allows it.
Return to Running
Meanwhile, since my slow return to running in June, I have been once again following Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program. This is the absolute best training program I have found. It’s easy and safe and flexible…all things I need in my fab fifties (sixties) life.
So this week I will run another half marathon. An organized run that supports the local organization Race for a Soldier, a non-profit close to my heart. I’ll be slower than before. I might need to walk part of the 13.2 miles. But I will cross the finish line with a smile on my face. Because running for recovery is my answer to all things that life throws at us in 2021; surgery, lockdown, stress and the never ending PanDamit.
Be healthy my friends.
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Gosh I wanted to like this book. I really, really did because to this day I still find Doerr’s eloquent book All the Light You Cannot See one of the best reads of my life. But, sigh….About Grace just didn’t do it for me.
Doerr’s way with words is amazing, even in this book. He really can conjure compassion. He can conjure emotion. He can even conjure the weather for the reader in a way you will feel frostbite on your toes or sunburn on your cheeks. Alas though, for me, About Grace was too discombobulated and unbelievable.
Interestingly, About Grace has it’s champions, and to me that is one of the fun things about reading…no two people look at a novel the same.
In this book we follow the very confused life of David Winkler from Alaska to the Caribbean and then all across the USA as he searches for his daughter and searches to find peace in his own mixed up life. Winkler has spent his life fearing his dreams will come true, after one dream does when he was just a child. When he dreams as a young father that he will drown his own child, he flees from her trying to distance himself in an effort for the vision to not come true.
But over the decades he is tormented, haunted and at times crazed. Following him through this book can be both painful and inconceivable. I found myself loathing this character.
You may like this book more than I did. You may even like it more than All The Light You Cannot See. You will need to decide for yourself. Thanks for reading my book review of About Grace by Anthony Doerr.
Spending every summer in Washington State, we always try to search out something new and interesting we have never done. The Pacific Northwest is chock full of gorgeous opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and more. And this summer we decided to go chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region.
There are lots of waterfalls to choose from, and not only on the west side of Washington. Eastern and Southern Washington have a variety all their own. But we chose to visit five waterfalls within a short drive of our summer villa which is located on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Today I share with you five beautiful, easily accessible waterfalls everyone should visit – locals and visitors alike. It’s time for everyone to try chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region. So here we go;
1. Marymere Falls
The drive to Marymere Falls trailhead is in itself a great summer or fall activity. Located just a short 2 mile walk from Crescent Lake and the Crescent Lake Lodge, Marymere Falls is 30 miles from Port Angeles and is within the Olympic National Park so an America the Beautiful Pass is required. At this location you can also do the Storm King hike if you are in good shape and an experienced hiker. As for the hike to Marymere, it is accessible to just about anyone. Starting from the parking lot it’s about 2 miles with a slight incline to reach the falls. The view of the 90 foot drop of the falls is beautiful. This hike is very popular and can be extremely crowded on a summer weekend. Consider fall or midweek if you can.
2. Franklin Falls
There are at least three waterfalls all within a few miles of each other and just off of Interstate 90 near North Bend and the town of Snoqualmie in the Cascade Mountains. Franklin Falls is the first of the three. A easy and beautiful 2 mile round trip hike through old growth forests, Franklin Falls is on Denny Creek. You can swim at the base of the falls and many people come here on the weekends to cool off in the summer. This is a hike you can do any time of year, and the water level of the falls changes seasonally. Again its easy access makes it very popular on summer weekends and parking can be tight. Plan accordingly. Franklin Falls is part of the Denny Creek Washington State Campground and a Discover Pass is required.
3. Twin Falls
A short drive west from Franklin Falls you can get to the hike for Twin Falls. Located on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, Twin Falls is within Olallie State Park and a Discover Pass is required. Many families come here on the weekend to swim in the river, but the hike has a slow and steady incline so not everyone goes to the falls. But due to limited parking, consider weekday visit in the summer. The 2 mile round trip hike meanders along the river then traverses through beautiful forests before reaching the first observation point for the falls. Continue on another quarter mile to get up close and personal with beautiful Twin Falls.
4. Snoqualmie Falls
The Granddaddy of all Washington waterfalls is the incomparable Snoqualmie Falls. Located on the Snoqualmie River, just downstream from the town of the same name, Snoqualmie Falls is majestic. Higher than Niagara, the falls have a different personality depending on the season. If you are lucky enough to view the falls during a flood or high rain season you will be astonished by the amount of water that thunders over. But the falls are just as beautiful during summer and fall, when the narrower cascade gracefully falls like a veil. Snoqualmie Falls offers multiple viewing platforms, open from dawn to dusk, and a steep hike is also an option down to the base of the falls. Access is free and free parking is also available. A very special treat is to dine or stay the night at the impeccable Salish Lodge, located right at the edge of the falls with spectacular views. Snoqualmie Falls is located just off Interstate 90. Follow the signs through the town of Snoqualmie to the falls.
5. Silver Falls
Within Mount Rainier National Park you will find a variety of glorious waterfalls, as well as wonderful hiking options. Silver Falls is one of the most beautiful, with a 3 mile round trip loop hike that most anyone can do. Start the hike at the Ohanapekosh Campground, located at the Cayuse Pass entrance to the park about 47 miles from the city of Enumclaw. Once again, summer weekends are busy and parking is limited, so try to come midweek. Autumn is an excellent time to visit as well. The hike is within the Mount Rainier National Park and a America the Beautiful Pass is required. From the parking lot follow the signs to the falls through a beautiful old growth forest with views of the Ohanapekosh River below. Arriving at the falls you will be awarded with a stunning view. Cross the tiny wooden bridge to see another view of the falls, or to clamber out on the giant boulders and enjoy your lunch. Return to your vehicle on the loop trail, enjoying more of the beauty and scenery of this magnificent National Park.
We love our home state of Washington and love being tourists in our own back yard when we are in Washington and the USA. Chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region is just one of our favorite things. Want to learn more about our Favorite Places in Washington? Click here.
This is the fourth, maybe even fifth book I have read by Neil Gaiman. This story most reminded me of Gaiman’s American Gods, possibly his most well known book. Anansi Boys was written in 2005, but I had never read it. I listened to this book on Audible while we were driving around Iceland and Audible is a great choice for the way Gaiman writes. I hope you enjoy by book review Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman is known for fantasy and magic in his novels. His work often creates character who are just your average, often under achieving, people going about their daily lives. That is until something or someone “magical” enters their humdrum life. So it is with “Fat Charlie”, a less than inspiring Londoner leading an uninspired life.
Until Fat Charlie’s father, known as Mr. Nancy, passes away unexpectedly in Florida. Fat Charlie leaves his boring job and uninspired wedding planning fiance in London to fly to Florida for the funeral. It’s here that Fat Charlie learns some surprising history about his father and family. His father is a god, and Fat Charlie has a brother who also has magical traits. Mr. Nancy is named for the African God Anansi (Spider God) and Fat Charlie’s brother is named Spider.
Of course Fat Charlie is skeptical, confused, and a little pissed off that all this information has been kept from him all these years. But when brother Spider arrives at Fat Charlie’s London flat, a wild and raucous adventure begins that includes travel to far off mystical places, loosing his fiance but gaining a girlfriend, outrageous behavior by Spider, criminal activity by Fat Charlie’s employer and on and on.
In true Gaiman fashion the story will come together happily in the end, with all characters finding satisfaction in this crazy magical world of the gods. I hope you enjoyed my book review Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
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